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The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved a plan that would allow the agency that buys electricity on behalf of utility customers to seek proposals for long-term wind-power contracts.

The commission on Monday voted 3-1 to allow the Illinois Power Agency to negotiate the long-term deals with renewable power developers for up to 3.5 percent of the utilities' electricity needs.

But the commission also wants the Illinois Power Agency to meet with interested parties to discuss concerns that renewable energy contracts could drive consumers' electricity bills up.

Wind power developers have pushed for the contracts even though wind power is currently pricier than more conventional sources of energy.

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